April 30, 2008


being alarmed means being ready

A few weeks ago, prior to going on vacation, a security system was installed in our house, much to my chagrin. I wasn't present for the installation nor the training program that must have accompanied it and frankly, took little interest in the entire procedure as I found myself busy with other priorities. I had been assigned a security code to allow me to activate and deactivate the thing but once again, paid no attention to these details as I hurried through life. I decided to ignore the whole affair until I had more time to attend to this intrusion, perhaps after we returned from our vacation. I do remember discussions taking place with the kids so that they could use the alarm system while we were away but I didn't participate - there would be time when I got home. At 5 AM, the day before we left, I inadvertently caused the stupid electronic piece of junk to go into some sort of spasmodic siren condition when I didn't enter some code and a strange voice from within the house started demanding that I identify myself immediately and that they would be dispatching the police and all sorts of other threats, just because I opened my front door to retrieve the morning paper. Lots of hollering and saying of secret words and codes and I was rescued from certain imprisonment, just in the nick of time. A few colourful words may have escaped from my mouth as I yelled at this strange grey box with the blinking red light on top, sitting on the floor in the family room and talking at me.
While out of the country I became aware of a number of things like the incredibly heavy security personnel presence in every airport who have all undergone surgery to remove their sense of humour, or should I say, humor? Other things were also weighing heavily on my mind as I noticed how many people needed help getting from one place to another due to the physical limitations of aging. This was noticeable on planes, in restaurants and virtually everywhere else. I often thought of friends who are currently undergoing some severe medical and in two cases, terminal illnesses, much too young. Like them, I just assume that I will have time to enjoy life later. The old saying about living every day like it is our last, assumes that we will know it is our last. What if it just is - without warning? What will have been left undone? What dreams will be unrealized and why? What promises unfilled? What adventures not lived and lands unexplored? That old Catholic school training that demanded that we suffer in this life in order to enjoy the next, makes less sense all the time - what time is left, that is.
Since I've been home, I have tripped the damn security system two mornings in a row and found that no one had armed it last night. I'm not sure whose life has been extended by this oversight but I know that I am ready to find something other than a whining siren call to make my days more exciting. I've done surfing....perhaps sky-diving???? Why wait until next year to try something new?

April 20, 2008


be one with the beach

Random observations from travelling in the tropics: beer made in Hawaii has no calories, Maui Babe suntan lotion doesn't attract any, ears and noses peel regardless of how much aloe vera is put on them, it always takes a full day to travel no matter how close or far, spouses make lousy navigators but they're great at telling you where to go, dinner at any restaurant at sunset called "The Beach House" is spectacular (and a little pricey), suitcases gain weight during travel, Kona coffee is worth the price, good travel guidebooks are invaluable, there are more uniformed security personnel in U.S. airports than customer service people, first class lounges aren't always, ocean breezes beat air conditioning, tropical vacations are better when it is snowing at home, no one appreciates seeing someone's pictures while they are still on vacation, watching first time parents with a tired and cranky baby in a swank eatery is not pleasant for anyone, getting asked for ID in the Maui airport before getting a beer is cool, going through 3 security checks isn't, hearing that your son had to shovel snow off the driveway twice in one day - oh dear, the sound of waves crashing on shore is rythmic, mesmerizing and powerful all at the same time, the early morning sound of birds chirping beats an alarm clock everytime, condos with locally grown coffee for the coffee maker is a nice touch, buying the same brand of "organically grown" fruit juice that has no preservatives that I buy at home makes me wonder, finding the game results for 3 Stanely Cup playoff games crammed into 3 paragraphs on page 7 of the Honolulu Advertiser is unsurprising, buying another suitcase at mid vacation is scary, fresh locally caught swordfish steaks for about 3.00 each a pleasant surprise, roosters crow all day, the fish in the water here are more colourful than the aquarium at home - something about freedom, the view of the Waimea Canyon from the very top is inspiring, shave ice is fabulous, 10 hours of sleep is heaven, aloha shirts should only be worn in Hawaii and I'm going for a swim........

April 17, 2008


There is just something wrong about a man wearing pink crocs!  I am sitting in an internet cafe in paradise and maybe it's the sunshine that fries brains, but I'm watching a man, probably retirement-aged, walking across the parking lot with his wife, who is conservatively stylish and he seems to be oblivious to how weird he looks in khaki shorts, aloha shirt and pink crocs. Vacations bring many strange sights, some natural like unfamiliar plants and animals and some not so "natural."  The pink footed boobie is imported from off island.

We went to see a magic show the other night.  Now that would be an unnatural act for me whether on vacation or not.  Warren and Annebelle's Magic Show, on Maui is not to be missed. Thanks to the advice of friends before we left home, we had booked via the internet several days before departure.  Thank goodness because had we waited, we never would have got in and this show is worth every penny of admission.  A small audience of under 80 people guarantees an intimate show that is as funny as it is mystifying.  A gem!

Another find is the "Maui Babe" tanning lotion full of all sorts of natural ingredients that I am currently sporting.  I haven't figured out if it makes you a "babe" or attracts them.  I will report any scientific evidence when I have concluded my research.  One thing I know for sure, pink crocs are both unnatural and I'm pretty sure, a natural "babe" deterrent.

April 14, 2008


be one with the board, not the bored

OK, so this surfing thing is a little tougher than those 20 - something's make it look.  Special thanks to Mike the teacher for recognizing that an aging hippy-wanna-be required a little extra attention to actually stand on the board - on top of the water.  Mission accomplished and yes, there is photographic evidence!  Same evidence will be posted soon after I have a nap or a beer, whichever makes most sense.  A  quart or so of aloe vera on my forehead might be a good idea too.

No Seniors tour surfing scouts were in attendance today, but the other 4 kids in my lesson group applauded my efforts when I finally got up - or were they just glad that they could finally get out of the water?  I'm thinking about a remedial class on Kauai next week.

Still hangin' loose and free on Maui.

Surfer Bob

April 12, 2008


Hawaii truly is paradise!  

I find it interesting how my body, in addition to my mind, knows that I am coming here before I get on the plane.  I know that sounds strange to some of you but it is nonetheless, true.  Somehow I physically begin to anticipate the warmth and humidity and it shows up in stuffed sinuses and tightened joints in and around my neck. Magically, no matter how many hours on a plane or in airports - 13 this time - as soon as I step into the warm air, all of that disappears.  I know most of you have the same experience when you step into a tropical climate, but I wonder how many notice the anticipation your body goes through beforehand.
There is something pretty neat about barbecuing in the rain, wearing nothing more than a bathing suit and not having Eskimos run screaming into the night in fear of the great white shamu.  That was last night, tonite we will try a highly touted restaurant on Maui's west side and toast those left behind who encountered a snowstorm an hour after dropping us at the airport.
And the open air bar with the live band playing some seriously good 70's rock while we enjoyed a few local libations yesterday afternoon, wasn't half bad either.

Hang Loose!

April 4, 2008


the more we know, the more we need to learn

My sister-in-law and mother-in-law are visiting for a few days and provide the source of yet another interesting thought about well......thoughts and opinions. They had driven all day, visited a sick relative in the hospital and endured a hockey game on the tube after dinner. My sister-in-law was fairly sleepy by 8:30 but hoped to find something on our shelves to read prior to dreamland. She said that she didn't want to learn anything, just enjoy a story. She is also quite a strong Christian, thus providing a target for a barb or two from yours truly - not that I would take advantage of a woman in a state of exhaustion, you understand. Anyway I suggested a book title that caused a tic to develop on her right cheek, so I knew I had hit the spot. But then, ever the caring host, I held up a book from my chair-side table named "What's So Amazing About Grace" by Philip Yancey. I quite proudly informed her that I was an equal opportunity reader. She recognized the book and the tic seemed to settle down nicely. The other book I had suggested for her bedtime pleasure was written by Christopher Hitchens and called, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything."
Now, you may be surprised to learn that I have occasionally had an opinion or two on a variety of issues, but my earlier comment about being an equal opportunity reader sparked some cranial activity. I set aside the pain that this caused and realized that I am often guilty of expressing a biased thought, based on one side of the research. I'm not alone on that train either. How can we be so certain of the rightness of our ideas without looking at the information lined up on the other side and with a strong dose of objectivity considering the opposing view. I see it all the time in the media as they present information and draw conclusions from one point of view. Every morning around the water cooler, I can hear the results of people expressing strong opinions based on one set of "facts" about everything from racial intolerance to environmental issues, sports and politics. I suspect that these opinions are based on a single source of information that makes a better statement than a discussion.
I would like to say that I will not express any more opinions without thoroughly researching every side of the argument, however when you live your life being right each time....oh, where did that tic on my cheek come from?

April 1, 2008


the reward for giving of our time can never be measured in dollars

For most of my life, I have been involved in some sort of volunteer based organization or other. In school, I got involved in the Catholic Youth Organization and then while I lived in Winnipeg, I joined the Jaycees and for the past 15 years have found myself assisting with my son's hockey teams and other hockey related events like the Legacy Tournament. The common denominator for all of these worthwhile causes is their dependence on a corps of volunteers to undertake all of the work that needs to be done. Lately, my emphasis has been on youth oriented causes and so I am keenly aware of how important a group of willing participants is to the continued success of any sports program that caters to kids. Anyone who is involved as a volunteer derives tremendous joy and satisfaction from the experience of helping others, but sometimes it is a little disheartening to see that it is always the same faces who show up to help. Even worse is to overhear a comment from someone who quietly tries to undermine the volunteers by accusing them of being self serving. They often like to suggest to other "non-doers," that most volunteers are only involved to help their own children. Newsflash! You are right. They are there to help their children and in the process they are helping yours too, without complaint. OK. so that's my little rant (yes, I could say a lot more) about the people who sit on the sidelines and complain about the efforts of others.
More important, by far, is to recognize those people who make it possible for our children to enjoy sports of all kinds, learn about teamwork and sharing and yes, doing. My hat is off to all of you parents, grandparents and friends who go to meetings on weeknights, get up early on weekends, drive, raise money, cheer, pat kids on the back, wash dirty uniforms, coach, teach and act as role models for our children's children. Without you, the world would be a much sadder place because all that kids would have left are the expensive video games that keep them parked in the basement.
Cheers and thank you for a job well done!